Darrell Issa's House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform issued a report yesterday on Misplaced Priorities: How the Social Security Administration Sacrificed Quality for Quantity in the Disability Determination Process. The report talks about the great pressures that have been placed upon Social Security's Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) to produce as many decisions as possible. The report accepts at face value the assertion that the pressures to produce have led to a higher proportion of favorable decisions issued. The report demands that Social Security fire some ALJs, which it lists by name, and discipline others. The report insists that Social Security should stop hiring more ALJs and focus its efforts on controlling ALJ decision-making.
Social Security lacks the power to act against ALJs in the manner recommended by the report. To protect ALJs from agency influence, it's quite difficult to fire or discipline them. What Issa wants is heavy-handed agency influence on ALJ decision-making. You can't do that.
A halt in hiring of ALJs and a total focus on controlling ALJ decision-making would result in an explosion of Social Security's already unacceptable hearing backlog. Darrell Issa might be happy with that but it's unworkable. It's inevitable that as the hearing backlog explodes media coverage of the backlog will explode.